Submission: Refugee security assessments must be fair, transparent and accountable

The rights of refugees shouldn’t be contingent on secretive, non-reviewable ASIO assessments, the HRLC has said in a submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee which is conducting an inquiry into proposed amendments to the Migration Act which would make eligibility for a protection visa dependent on not being assessed as a security risk by ASIO.

HRLC Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, said that the proposed reforms entrench ASIO assessments at the centre of refugee processing but contain no safeguards to make sure the security assessment process is fair. Refugees have no right to appeal ASIO’s decision or to an explanation of the reasons behind it.

“It is vital that profoundly important decisions affecting the lives and liberty of vulnerable people be made through a process that is fair, transparent and accountable. The ASIO security assessment process is anything but” said Mr Webb.

The HRLC’s submission made the following recommendations:

  • Applicants for protection visas should be afforded the same legal right as citizens and permanent residents to seek merits review of ASIO security assessments in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
  • There should be legislative provision for regular (i.e. at least 6 monthly) consideration of whether the deemed security threat posed by a person can be addressed in manner less harmful and restrictive than detention.
  • The national security grounds on which a protection visa may be refused should be confined to the exclusion grounds under the Refugee Convention.

A copy of the HRLC’s submission can be found here.

A media release on the topic can be found here.